If you want to keep your business moving forward into the future, you will need to take steps to modernize and digitize your business. This goes for small businesses as well as large businesses. While most larger businesses have already taken steps to modernize their models and have already pioneered the frontier of digital operations, small businesses are often slow to modernize and slower to fully exploit the advantages of the internet age.
In this day and age, modernizing is all about moving online. At this point, having a website and a social media feed is the absolute bottom line of what you can and should be doing online to support your small business. Entire small businesses have been born and bred in entirely digital environments. This is more than the future, it is the present of all business, no matter the size. Before you can start using targeted advertising, some machine learning operations or online collaboration systems, you need to develop a digital presence, if you haven't already.
Advertising and Reach
Perhaps the biggest impact of modernizing your business comes in advertising and reach. Social media, when properly maximized, allows you to reach more people with minimal investments of money and resources. It doesn't stop there either. Using digital analytics can teach you an incredible amount about that customer base which in turn will help you reach more people more effectively. For many small retail businesses, if this doesn't translate to more boots coming in the front door, it can easily translate to a boom in online sales. For highly specialized businesses, this increases your customer base exponentially. You may not have many customers in your immediate vicinity, but through the power of the internet, your customer base is no longer geographically limited.
For other businesses, modernizing your model and maximizing your use of digital technologies can smooth coordination and make your employee's lives infinitely easier. Whether it's a collaboration system that allows multiple teams or even businesses to coordinate easily or a digital timekeeping and payroll system that allows your employees to easily request leave and manage their benefits, the centralization of operations online often makes a decentralization of your workforce possible, easy and profitable.
All of this translates into greater durability. If your local customer base dries up, you can look further afield for a new customer base. If you need to cut expenses, you might be able to downsize your offices without downsizing your workforce by shifting some employees to a remote situation. On a smaller scale, if you're flexible enough to allow employees to work from home easily, then you will see employees need to take fewer sick days and family leave days, as they can do some of their job from home just as effectively. Obviously, the ability to continue sales and working online makes your business better able to endure larger disasters like a pandemic or extreme weather.
Dangers and Downsides
Going digital isn't going to fix every problem your business has; it isn't a magical cure all and it comes with its own dangers. There is of course the danger of malware and cyber-crime, but more common are the mundane pitfalls of choosing the wrong platform or ending up with a system that becomes obsolete and has to be replaced. There's a lot of trial and error involved, and small businesses usually have smaller profit margins to make mistakes with. Caution and common sense are your best defenses against the usual mistakes, as long as you don't let caution and common sense become fear and obstinacy.
While there are, of course, dangers and downsides to modernizing your small business, the dangers of not going digital are far higher. On top of all that, it's generally very possible and very easy to digitize and modernize without sacrificing your current business model. If you're a small retail operation, for example, there's no reason you can't do digital marketing and sales alongside the tried-and-true model of operation that you're already using. Modernizing and taking full advantage of new technologies doesn't have to be just a matter of survival. Don't wait until you have no choice but to modernize your small business. Do it now and enjoy the benefits of new innovation. Watch your small business thrive!